This is a guest post.
I am 43 years old, married to a great man, have a really good job at a medical company and I have three beautiful daughters aged 8, 11 and 15. I grew up in the suburbs, was a good girl and went to a top school and graduated with a great education. So why would I be a pole dancer? I mean isn’t that like a stripper? The answer is simple but still complex; yes it is and no it’s not.
Let me start at the beginning. I decided to go to a class because I really like dancing and I was a stay at home mom who felt like the walls were closing in on me. I couldn’t really find a dance class that seemed right for me and I signed up for a six week session thinking it was a very limited commitment. I was very nervous and told no one what I was doing. It was a small class and we worked on building strength in our arms, so let me tell you we women do not work on this! Holding myself up for 5 seconds was an impossible task and I could never imagine doing a whole song. After that we would work on a trick or a move and I loved it. It was gymnastics for adults with dance moves to tie it all together. It was so much fun. We women would go, laugh at ourselves because the attempts to get these moves can be pretty hilarious and we would get some exercise. Let me say a word about the exercise part. I never, ever felt like I was working out. I was going to class just to have fun but suddenly my body transformed. I built beautiful shoulders, muscled back and arms and eventually even started getting some pretty decent abs. That’s how it started, my little class where I laughed and got fit and danced. I loved it, but it’s pole dancing….
Telling people you are a pole dancer is very interesting. There’s a very definite reaction. It’s not like telling someone you teach yoga. They try to be cool and supportive and you get a lot of people saying ‘cool … umm that looks hard’. This is usually where I respond ‘it is!’ and start telling people how hard it is and the core strength one needs and how hard we all train. I want to say for the record pole fitness/dancing is as much a sport and fitness endeavor as anything out there. We all cross train and work extremely hard to master the moves and tricks. At the end of the day, this is gymnastics. We suffer broken bones, concussions and bruises, Oh the bruises! The horrified looks you get when people see the bruises when you’re training for a competition are amazing. The next time you see a woman wearing long sleeves and pants in the middle of summer she may just be a pole dancer. Pole dancers work on muscle building, coordination, flexibility and balance. A lot goes into these routines. There’s performance, musicality, costume and creative concept as well as defying gravity with strength and skill. We also have to make it look easy. No judge wants to see you gasping for breath at the end of your routine. So why would you not think this is a sport? The Canadian Pole Fitness Association (CPFA) holds regular competitions that have required elements for every level. There are strict guidelines about costume and what can and can’t be done. The women and men that compete are athletes plain and simple. Several pole organizations are making great strides in getting the IOC to recognize pole as an Olympic sport.
There’s always one thing that hangs over our heads though…it’s a pole. Strippers use them. The routines can be sexy and typically there are barely any clothes worn. Let me set the record straight pole requires skin contact on the pole to hold yourself, otherwise you slip. If you plan to take your hands off the pole then the clothes will become smaller. There’s no difference than wearing a bathing suit or a gymnastic leotard. Sexy is a much harder thing to address. In the beginning I would always say that dancing and expressing yourself in that way leads to body movement than can beautiful and sexy. Almost all dances have that element built into it, and pole dance is no different. Does a person dancing the tango or the rumba carry the stigma of a pole dancer? I still believe this wholeheartedly but I hate that when I say that I sound like I am trying to distance myself from women who dance in an erotic manner and even those who take off their clothes. You can certainly be a pole dancer and really not at all relate to that world, but for all of us who so strip or are simply dipping our toe in it, then ‘HELL yes! Go for it girl!’ There’s nothing wrong with that but just because you pole dance it does not automatically mean you’re a stripper. But for me the question is ‘what so wrong with stripping anyway?’